Sponsored by Sharien Muhammad
"I honor the woman, Tahirah Muhammad, who sacrificed as a co-creator with Allah to birth me and my three brothers into this world at this dispensation of time. I am grateful for the sacrifices she made to protect and nurture me into the woman I am today. She was always there to guide, protect, and support. There is so much to learn from our pioneers. What was the motivation behind their tremendous faith? They didn’t have as much knowledge as we have now. Many of them had limited education, some of whom were illiterate. They had blatant racism with police brutality as in the case of Emmett Till, multiple lynchings, beatings, “White Only” fountains, bathrooms, restaurants, department stores, housing, and schools. They had the realities of their living conditions in comparison to white societies depicted on television and in the news. They had the stories shared by their parents reared in the early 1900’s of what life was like in the south. Unemployment was high and dependency on government handouts was prevalent. High hopes were in landing a “good government job including the military from which many returned home addicted to drugs. This caused more problems in the neighborhood than before they left. Many sought to work for civil service jobs like post office, sanitation, municipal housing and hospitals, and the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). These opportunities were only available to a few who could pass the test and be amongst the lucky ones picked by lottery. Most were left to fend for themselves with access to only low level paying jobs often supplemented by government assistance, like welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid. Those who were willing and able to acquire an education may benefit from the so-called poverty programs which offered education and training to a limited number of students. These training programs designed to strengthen skills and qualifications of the labor force presumably lead to higher paying jobs. However, if they were illiterate, had a criminal record, or simply did not make it amongst the “first-come-first served” group, those options were seemingly out of reach. Then as now, black people were given a record early in life for things white youth were given a “slap on the wrist or a pat on the back.” All of which instilled fear and hopelessness. For a young girl with four brothers, a father and uncles, this reality was heavy on her mind.
My mother, Sister Tahirah Muhammad was born and Sumter, SC. It is said that her parents abruptly fled from Sumter up North because my grandfather and a group of his friends were wanted for alleged “reckless eyeballing (Looking at white woman), which is as good as being guilty in the eyes of white men.” It is also said that he and another friend avoided the fate of being lynched along with their other friends as that was one of the punishments for this allegation. Circumstances like this primed my parent’s heart and mind for what was to happen next.
Sister Tahirah Muhammad and her husband, Abdul Hakim Muhamad joined The Nation of Islam in 1964 when their daughter Sister Sharien was a month old and her first born son, Aubrey was three years old. She was so impressed with the strength of the mighty F.O.I. She would always say, ""they didn't scratch where they didn't itch; they didn’t laugh when it wasn’t funny; and they didn’t hesitate to defend righteousness. She would say, ""I have never seen a Blackman speak so firmly and directly to the wickedness of white people in the face of white people. “I wasn't looking for religion. I was looking for a free black people and I found it in the Nation of Islam in 1964.""
As the story goes, my mother followed my father to Muhammad’s Temple No. 7. They both joined the Nation of Islam and started their children in Muhammad’s University of Islam (MUI) from 1964 – 1975. They lived on the opposite corner and across the street from the Temple on 116th Street and Lenox Avenue. Their eldest son, Aubrey was a part of MUI’s last graduation class of 1974. Their two younger sons Abu and Saifullah attended MUI as well. As I reflected on her time in the Nation from 1994 - 1975, she was either on maternity leave, in the mother’s room or working at the daycare teaching and training babies to start MUI once they were potty-trained. Her superb organization and attention to the rhythm method, resulted in her successfully spacing each of her four children approximately three years apart. Her teaching ability prepared me to begin MUI at 2 years old. Her focus on education had me skip two grade levels. In hindsight, I am in awe of her ability to stir me in the right direction. She was and is a master at rearing from behind without making me feel like she is overcrowding or overbearing. She is my best friend, confidant, and super supporter. I am grateful to Allah for her and look forward to learning about her experiences and motivations for the courses she took in life.
Curious about how this all began, I asked my mother, “How did you join The Nation of Islam?”
“One day I was looking out of my old bedroom window at grandma’s house and I saw your father walking across Lenox Avenue between 115th and 116th Streets with a suit and tie on and wondered ‘where is he coming from’?” When he came upstairs, I asked him where he was coming from and he said ‘I went to the Temple’.” I asked, why didn’t you take me? '' He said “I didn’t think you would be interested. “ I said, “I am interested in whatever you are interested in.” He said, alright then, the next time I go, I’ll take you.” And the next time he went, he took me.” It was sometime after July 9, 1964. You were a month old. Brother Minister James 7X was teaching. Unbeknownst to one another, we both accepted at the end of the lecture. We processed and received our X in October of 1964.”
My mother was first introduced to The Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad when she was 17 years old. “One day I was standing on the stoop of 70 West 115th Street where I grew up and Malcolm X was teaching on the soapbox on the corner of 115th Street and Lenox Avenue. I noticed a crowd and went over to the front of the crowd to watch and listen. I noticed as Malcolm X was teaching, there were police officers standing around the stage. I noticed that on each police officer was a brother and I noticed that the brothers were standing right hand over left. They were standing strong. They were looking with no fear. “As Malcolm X was saying ‘The white is the devil,' the brothers that were standing post weren’t blinking or smiling. They were looking fierce and I was loving it. I was a teenager and that was strange. I was used to seeing the Blackman kowtowing, looking down, scratching where they didn’t itch, and laughing when it wasn’t funny. I noticed that the faces of the white police officers were turning colors (red and blue). They looked angry. I felt good watching the Blackman holding his head up high and showing no fear. I didn’t realize that these brothers were from the Temple across the street.
It wasn’t until four years later when I noticed your father walking across Lenox Avenue with a suit and tie on and wondered where he was coming from. Your father used to talk to me about an organization that he was interested in, however I didn’t make the connection nor was I interested at the time. Once I made my first visit to Temple No. 7, I realized the connection between what I was hearing from Malcolm X on the corner of 115th Street and Lenox Avenue and what I was hearing at the Temple.”
As the first teacher, my mother was focused on rearing her children and being available to assist with other believers’ children. Her apartment was the “bus stop” where parents would drop-off and pickup students being bused to Muhammad University of Islam in Brooklyn during the time when Temple No. 7 was under renovations after firebombing in 1965. She later became an instructress at an MUI affiliate daycare center. I learned my seven units from my mother. We would bake bread, cakes and pies. We would cook fresh meals from scratch. Nothing was boxed or ready-made. I learned the basics of sewing from her and my grandmother. My mother loved being a Muslim. I remember her having garments in every color. I couldn’t wait to grow up and be just like her. She was my first example of an M. G. T. My mother’s love for Islam and The Teachings of The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan was so strong that she didn’t allow anyone to refer to us, her children, as anything else. She and my father began using Muhammad when the Messenger departed in 1975. When she registered us in public school for the first time, she registered us with no academic records due to the issues surrounding the “Fall of ‘75” and she registered us as Muhammad. I remember her emphatically telling the school administrators who wanted to use the names from our birth certificates, “You can use that slave master name if you want to. Their names are Muhammad and that’s what they will be called.” Therefore, we were never referred to as that slave master’s name because it wasn’t used in MUI nor was used in public school.
I admired my mother’s strength, fearlessness, love and compassion. Her strong position and advocacy for our name, made me a strong representative and defender of Muhammad being worthy of praise. The name Muhammad, alone was a deterrent from many of the self-destructive behaviors prevalent amongst my peers. I thank Allah for having my mother impress upon me the importance of reflecting the presence of Allah in the Person of Master Fard Muhammad. Every time she gave us something in writing, she would end it with “Remember Allah, Remember Prayer and Remember that you are loved very much.” “Us” includes all that she encounters that are blessed to receive a personal note. Even those who meet her in passing will receive the greetings of As Salaam Alaikum, which is her way of establishing peace and keeping on the forefront of their minds the presence of Allah, His Christ The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and their Divine Servant the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Today, my mother has four children, 15 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. She is an MGT and GCC guest instructress on Finance and Taxes. Her love for organization, finance and freedom motivated her to learn from the local business owners in her community and eventually becoming educated and certified to establish a business in taxes and finances, “Tahirah Preferred Taxes.” Her love, compassion and sense of gratitude for others is exemplified in her daily morning motivations individually text to nearly 200 believers, family and friends. I have no idea how she finds the time to do it, but she not only sends them, she looks forward to the individual responses. Incredible!!! I still want to be like her. I thank Allah for my mother and her love for Islam, which makes me the woman that I am today. I am grateful for this opportunity to honor her in this way. May Allah continue to bless her, the believers and Virtue Magazine with GREAT SUCCESS!!"